Unemployment down in Nevada County | TheUnion.com

Unemployment down in Nevada County

Jennifer Terman
Staff Writer

The unemployment rate in Nevada County went from 8.6 percent to 8.4 percent from February to March, according to estimates by the California Employment Development Department.

Though there has been a slight decline in unemployment, the total number of jobs in Nevada County fell by 200 during the month, typical of a post-seasonal job time, said Diane Patterson, labor market analyst for the Sierra foothills region.

"Usually between February and March, industry employment falls," Patterson said. "Nevada County doesn't typically pick up jobs (during that time). They are flat or decline slightly due to changes in leisure and hospitality."

Patterson speculated that the drop in jobs in that industry may be from a warmer season this year, which led to fewer tourists, skiers and snowboarders.

"While ski resorts stayed open, they may have laid off because it wasn't as busy, or perhaps there were earlier layoffs," she said.

The industries that experienced the most decline in March were leisure and hospitality, which lost 110 jobs, while mining, logging and construction lost 80, and 10 were removed from trade, manufacturing and business and 10 from professional services, Patterson said.

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Some industries did, however, add jobs to the area, which included private education and health, government and other services, which involves personal service-type jobs from automotive shops and veterinary clinics to cosmetology, etc., she said.

The economy is improving, Patterson said, and last year, 540 jobs were added to Nevada County, primarily led by leisure and hospitality.

"So even though it lost over the month, it added jobs over the year, which is a good sign for economic recovery," Patterson said.

Leisure and hospitality has led the county in year-to-year job growth for a 15-month period, added Patterson.

"They've been adding jobs on a year-to-year basis, which is good because leisure and hospitality represent the service industry typically where people have been cutting back on discretionary income," Patterson said, "which is important for Nevada County with service-related options.

The annual look at the unemployment rate has also suggested an improved economy, as the rate decreased 1.7 percent in the past year, Patterson said.

"Since all industry employment bottomed out in November 2010 at 27,400, and now in March we're up to 28,600, so we've been progressively adding jobs," Patterson said, though that is still below pre-recession levels, the highest of which was in June 2007 with 31,300 jobs.

The unemployment rate in nearby counties decreased from February to March with the exception of Sierra County, which remained at 15.5 percent, according to the report.

Placer County's rate dropped from 8.3 to 8 percent; Yuba from 15.8 to 15.5 percent; and Sutter from 18.5 percent to 17.9 percent.

The unemployment rate in nearby counties mirrors an improved rate in the state, according to the Associated Press, which stated California's unemployment rate dropped in March to 9.4 percent from 9.6 percent in February and from 10.7 percent during the same period a year ago.

Despite the improvement, California still has the third-highest unemployment rate in the country, the report said.

Patterson said California was hit hard by the recession and that recovery has been slow but will hopefully remain steady.

"The industry affected by the housing bubble burst, finance and construction industry, mortgage industries, those are the hardest hit in California, so it's just taking some time to regain those jobs," Patterson said. "Just showing that the rate of unemployment has slowed or declined in general is a general sign of economic improvement."

To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email jterman@theunion.com or call 530-477-4230.

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